In this podcast, Jordan Syatt and I chat about building a healthy relationship with food.
Have you ever felt anxious about going off your diet by going out to eat? Or nervous about going on vacation because you’re afraid you’ll lose all of your hard-earned progress and gain gobs of fat?
If so, you might need to improve your relationship with food.
In this interview, Jordan explains what a healthy (and unhealthy) relationship with food is, why it matters, how to develop good food habits, how to avoid restricting and bingeing cycles, and more.
In case you’re not familiar with Jordan, he holds several powerlifting records, has a Bachelors of Science in Health & Behavior Science, and hosts his own successful podcast called The Jordan Syatt Mini-Podcast.
He’s also a strength and nutrition coach (with clients like Gary Vaynerchuk), and has a lot of experience with the personal points of coaching people and helping them adopt healthier, sustainable lifestyles. In other words, he’s spent a lot of time thinking about people’s relationship with food and how to improve it with positive habits that last.
So if you want to learn all about what a healthy relationship with food is and how you can improve yours, listen to this interview!
Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps!
8:30 – What is a healthy relationship with food and why does it matter?
21:12 – What are good habits that develop a healthy relationship with food?
40:22 – How do you avoid the problem of changing your food choices during dieting? How do you avoid overeating when you switch back to normal foods from zero-calorie diet foods?
Mentioned on the Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. I am Michael Matthews, your host. Thank you for joining me today. And before we get started, please do take a moment to subscribe to the show in whatever app you are listening to me in, because then. You will not miss any new episodes, and you will help me by boosting the ranking of the show on the various charts.
All right. In this podcast, I chat with my good buddy Jordans, about building a healthy relationship with. Food, and this is such an important topic for not only getting fit, but staying fit. Because if you are not new to this game, you have probably felt anxious about going off of your diet plan, right?
Maybe it’s just one meal, even if you’re gonna go out to dinner and you are uncomfortable about eating something that is not on your plan. Or maybe it’s a vacation that you are nervous about because you’re afraid that you are going to completely. Overdo it and you’re gonna lose all of your hard earned progress, especially if you’re cutting, you’re afraid maybe you’re gonna gain back most or a lot of the fat that you’ve lost.
And these types of concerns are totally normal, especially when you are newer to all of this. But even if you’re not, it is totally normal to think those things and to worry at least a little bit about those things. I remember. First learned about flexible dieting and energy balance and macronutrient balance, that sounded too good to be true.
You mean all I have to do is eat 22 or 2300 calories per day and 180 grams of protein per day and you don’t care how many grams of carbs and you don’t care even what types of carbs I’m eating. Okay, This probably won’t work, but I’ll give it a go. And of course it worked. And I was amazed. And because at the time I didn’t understand the underlying principles the guy who introduced me to the method didn’t explain why.
He just said, Here are your calories. Here are your macros. Trust me, this is how it works. And so I remember texting him one time because I was going to get sushi with my wife, and I was asking him, Can I order? What should I not order? I was thinking about getting two spicy tuna rolls and some meso soup and some emami.
Is that okay? And if I’m being totally honest, I would like to eat emoji or two as well. And he thought that was pretty funny, dude, settle down, enjoy yourself. And so anyway, as I learned how energy balance actually works and what macronutrient balance is and how it relates to energy balance, I was no longer concerned to that level about what are really trivial things.
But there is a lot more that goes into building a truly healthy relationship with food is not only being able to control your calories and your macros when you’re cutting, or at least understand how your calories and macros impact your results, your body composition. So in this episode, Jordan talks about what healthy.
Unhealthy relationships with food actually look like why they matter, why your relationship with food matters, how to develop good food habits, how to avoid restricting and binging cycles and more. And in case you are not familiar with Jordan, he holds several powerlifting records. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Health and Behavior Science, and he hosts his own successful podcast called the Jordan Sciat Mini Podcast.
And something I really appreciate about Jordan and his work. He is first and foremost a coach, and he’s worked with guys like Gary Vanner truck for example, as well as just every day Jim goers who want to lose a bit of fat and gain a bit of muscle. And so he has a lot of firsthand experience working with normal people, and he’s very good at making complex topics, very simple and practical, and as usual, I think Jordan does a great job in this interview.
I hope you like it. Also, if you like what I am doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world, and we’re on top. Because every ingredient and dose in every product is backed by peer-reviewed scientific research.
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So while you don’t need pills, powders, and potions to get into great shape, and frankly, most of them are virtually useless, there are natural ingredients that can help you lose fat, build muscle, and get healthy faster. And you will find the best of them in legion’s products to check out everything we have to offer, including protein powders and bars, pre-workout and post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more head.
To buy legion.com/mike. That’s b u y L E G I n.com/mike. And just to show you how much I appreciate my podcast peeps, use the coupon code MFL checkout and you will save 20% on your entire first order. Mr. Sciat. What’s going on, man? Hey, I’m excited to have you back on the show. It’s been a little bit since we’ve talked and it’s always fun to, to get you on and to chat, like I was saying in our little off, off air chat it would be fun if we lived in the same area.
I think we’d have fun training together. Yeah,
Jordan: I would love that. It’s also, I haven’t. When you said that, I was like, Man, I haven’t had a really good training partner in years. And like really like the best training partners I ever had. I was in college and man, when you have a good training partner, it just helps a lot.
Bring a good intensity to the lifting.
Mike: It totally does. I had a good training partner when I was in Virginia, but he ended up going to the Czech Republic. He moved there. In January of this year to chase after a girl and No way. Yeah, I was suggesting that he, Wait I was, You may wanna wait.
Considering, this was back in January, right? There were so many unknowns. Yeah. And so it was funny, right? So I was talking to him in the gym and making it obvious as to why. It’s the probably the smarter decision to wait, give it a couple of months and see where all of this stuff goes, because you may not want to get trapped in the Czech Republic and who knows what they’re gonna do there, right?
And so he, he was like, Yeah, it’s true. I’m gonna wait. That’s a good point. . Next, next day, flight was booked.
This woman has too much control over him, unfortunately. .
Jordan: Yeah that’s a good idea. I’ll wait next day. All right. Never mind. I’m going. Oh, yeah. No, it wasn’t, Yeah,
Mike: it was already, the flight was already booked the next day, like he probably mentioned waiting to her and she’s You book that flight right now?
Oh, okay. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, honey. I’m doing it. I’m doing it like,
Jordan: Okay. Okay.
Mike: Sorry. I’m away. I shouldn’t have said that. Oh my God. Please have sex with me. That’s what a lot of that comes down to is it is this worth not getting laid for? Okay. How many days? What, What’s gonna be the penance here?
If I push this too far? Oh, man. Segue hards two. Today’s. Topic of discussion, something that I’ve commented on. But I haven’t gone in depth on and I thought you’d be a great guest for it because it’s something that you have thought about more than I have and talked about on your own podcast more than I have and talked about it on social media.
And that is developing that is just, let’s just say the overarching idea of a healthy relationship with food. What is that really? Mean, and why does it matter?
Jordan: Yeah, so it’s a broad topic and there are many nuances in different places we can go. But here’s what I’ll start by saying, I think we often talk about health and almost solely think about it in terms of, Physiological health, like how your body is functioning, which is normal.
It’s very important. But a lot of times people will have an unhealthy relationship with food, especially from a mental or psychological or emotional perspective. And one, I think the most important things to understand about having a healthy relationship with food is, I think this is almost overdone now.
Like the fitness industry runs on a pendulum of extremes. Yeah. But I think what I’m about to say has been taken too far, but it still holds true that you can’t have this idea of a good or a bad food, especially if you’re already starting from a disordered relationship with food. The reason this is, I important to understand is because if someone if you can’t eat a cookie or you can’t go out to dinner with your family and have a slice of pizza without getting anxious or feeling like you’re gonna ruin all your progress.
Regardless of how good your physiological health is, that is not a good, healthier relationship with food. If you can’t go enjoy a night, a dinner out with your son or with your daughter, with your wife, or with your husband because you’re fearful, you’re gonna ruin all your progress. I don’t care how good your physiological health is your psychological health is not there yet.
And so the. Topic of mental health around food and having good relationship with food. It has to begin with understanding. There is no good or bad food. It’s more about your diet and nutrition and your lifestyle as a whole, right? It’s like the dose determines the poison. And I think a lot of people really fall into this rut of.
Good foods and bad foods, right? Foods and wrong foods, healthy foods and unhealthy foods, fattening foods and fat burning foods. And the more you label these foods in isolation, as good or bad, the more likely you are to have this disordered, unhealthy relationship with it. Having said that, I’ve like over the last, I think, I don’t know, two years as.
Millions and millions of more people have become Instagram personal trainers just by putting personal trainer in the bio on their Instagram profile. This has become overdone now to the point where people think what you eat literally doesn’t matter in which you can just eat whatever you want and whatever quantity you want, and that you can still be healthy, and that is all that’s.
Mike: equally as bad. Like they’re stuck in the poptart phase of I F Y M. Remember that ? Correct. Correct. Like the
Jordan: 2004, like macros, body building forums Oh, I can eat whatever I want. All that stuff is, that’s equally as bad. So of course we need to find the balance and find the middle ground here.
But I, I think in order to understand that in order to build a healthy relationship with food, And I think it’s also important to clarify my starting point with this. The vast majority of people that I’m talking to here are people who are already starting with an unhealthy relationship with food.
It’s not talking to people who currently have a healthy relationship with food, or maybe even people who’ve never had an unhealthy relationship with food. Who I’m talking to are the people who. Who have a disordered relationship where they are, they get anxious about having a cookie. They get anxious about going away on vacation for a week, ruining all their progress.
It’s like that’s the person I’m talking to. And advice will differ based on where you are in your own, fitness journey. Somebody
Mike: else that we can talk to in the same conversation is and I can think of some people who I know even personally who fall into this bucket, who ironically.
Started with a healthy relationship with food and then learned about calories, learned about macronutrients which can in many cases. I know firsthand, having heard from many people over the years can help improve their relationship with food when they just understand how the. Kind of first principles of metabolism work.
And then they learn that, oh yeah, foods are not good or bad. I don’t have to assign moral labels to foods or, No individual food is unhealthy because it can’t make me unhealthy unless it’s just poison. Okay, fine. Yes, rat poison is unhealthy. I think we can agree there, but a donut, Unhealthy because it doesn’t harm my health so long as I don’t eat too many donuts.
Oh, cool. Got it. However, there are people who go from having, again, I can think of a couple people, a pretty well balanced diet eating a fair amount of nutritious foods. Maybe they’re they could stand some improvement but certainly better than your average. Westerner, and then they learn about calories and macros, and they learn about some meal manipulations, saving up calories, maybe intermittent fasting or just fasting in general.
And they take that too far and they develop an unhealthy relationship with food because they get this kind of perverse fetish with. Tracking calories, manipulating meals, saving up calories, not wanting to quote unquote cheat, because now they understand that when they go to their favorite restaurant and they eat their favorite foods there, oh, that’s 2000 calories.
And I don’t want to get fatter. And I know that if I eat, in the day 5,000 calories and I’m 120 pound woman I’m gonna get a little bit fatter. And so now I’m gonna not do that. And instead I’m gonna Before, and then I’m gonna tell people that I’m just not hungry. You know what I mean? And it gets into yeah, gets into a situation that starts to look like in a couple of cases, like an eating disorder.
Jordan: that situation very quickly and very often develops into a binge eating disorder. Yep. Where they’ll starve themselves all day and then they’ll like the saving up calories is really what they do. And they’ll starve themselves all day. They’ll wait until nighttime and then they just unleash.
Yep. And ironically, they end up eating more in a two to six hour window at night than they would have if they just ate more moderately
Mike: throughout the day. And then they feel guilty. And then the next day, I’ve. Firsthand. Then the next day try to eat, a few hundred calories to try to reset the metabolism, so to speak.
Jordan: Yeah. It’s ironic because I dunno if ironic is that word. It’s interesting because usually when these people are struggling with this, they’ll say, How do I stop this cycle? How do I stop the cycle of saving calories and then binging? And the negative part that in their mind is the binge. That’s the negative part.
They’re like how do I stop the binge? They’re like what you can’t, it’s not as easy to stop being the binge. What you have to do is stop the behavior that’s causing you to binge and the behavior causing you to binge is saving up the calories.
Mike: Yep. Especially, I’ve seen it with women who tend to do poorer with fasting, with going long periods without food.
They tend to experience more hunger and that leads to cravings. And so to that point yeah. When it’s now. 7:00 PM and you’re eating your first meal and you’re starving. Good luck. Good luck trying to limit yourself to 2000 calories. Yeah.
Jordan: And I’ll, What I’ll say is listen, it’s not about stopping the binge, it’s about stopping the behavior, causing it.
As hard as it is for them to hear this, the first thing they have to do is if they have a binge, you can’t then follow that up with now I have to star myself. Because if you then consequently try to starve yourself or overs restrict the following day, you feed directly back into that ha, that habit loop.
What they often do is they’ll try and over exercise and undereat immediately after they binge, which then. The exact same thing over and over again. The worst thing you can do is try to overexercise and undereat to make up for the damage. And this is where I start to notice people starting to develop a healthier relationship with food from here is when they understand that one meal or that one night didn’t do any damage.
That when they understand and internalize that. Then they stop trying to overcompensate for the next day by starving themselves or over exercising, and then from there they can stop binging. But the worst thing, and I very much agree is I see this in women all the time, much more than men, but men, I’ve definitely found men who struggle with it.
But women more than men, especially with the fasting, is they tend to get way more hungry. They tend to think about food way more often, and it literally encapsulates every waking moment of their life where all they’re thinking about. When’s the next meal? When’s the next meal? When’s the next?
Mike: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah I’ve interacted with many women over the years and that’s why I don’t tell women to not follow in intermittent fasting diet. But if I’m talking about intermittent fasting, I always mention this point. So just women know that if you’re gonna try it, for example, The kind of standard in the body building space is the 16 eight, right?
The old Lean Gains approach where you have an eight hour eating window, 16 hours of no food for every 24 hour period. It’s basically the skip breakfast approach. And what I’ve seen is that many women struggle, particularly with those final probably four hours or so. And so if women do want to extend their fasting longer than it than it would be with or they wanna rack up more fasting, so to speak, than they would with a traditional diet to try 10 to 12 hours of fasting.
And then the remaining time, every 24 hour period is you’re eating window. And of course, if you’re in bed for eight hours, then that’s pretty easy and you’re probably stopping eating either it’s, sometime between six and 9:00 PM and that, that seems to help. And the primary reason to do that for any women, anybody wondering is I’m.
Convinced at all of a lot of the purported health benefits of intermittent fasting and of trying to maximize the time that you go without food. I understand that there’s evidence that has shown benefits, but. A lot of that research was done there. There is some research now that has been done with resistance trained people, fit people, but that was looking at body comp for looking at health parameters.
That research has been done with obese people, sedentary people, so we can’t expect to see the same benefits in. Us in, in people who are listening, at least who are fit. Not that you have to be jacked or shredded, but if you are fit, you have a healthy body comp, you exercise regularly the mechanisms that you are going after with fasting, like a toy for example.
Research shows that getting enough sleep and exercising regularly impacts a toy significantly and very positively, almost certainly far more positively than fasting. It may be, to use an analogy like watering your grass after a rainstorm, it’s just not gonna do anything. You’re, the grass has plenty of water.
It’s getting everything it needs from the rainstorm. You don’t have to water it now. And so for people listening, if you have wondered if you should use or follow an intermittent fasting diet, I think the primary reason to do it is if you just like to eat that way. If you do not get hungry in the mornings, for example, and you’re not a big breakfast food person.
Skip breakfast, and that doesn’t mean that you have to now wait until 1:00 PM or 2:00 PM or any arbitrary time if you tend to get hungry around 11 and great. Then break your fast. Then if it’s 12, if it’s 10 just go with what works for you. And some people also, they do prefer to eat fewer larger meals, and that of course, then fits nicely with intermittent fasting.
So anyways, I don’t wanna ramble on too much on this point, but I thought it might be worth just sharing that information for people who are wondering. Yeah, no,
Jordan: I agree completely. And whenever someone says they wanna try intermittent fasting, I always ask why. Yeah. Like, why do you wanna do it? And if the answer is, I think it’s gonna be like optimal for fat loss, I think it’s gonna help improve my fat loss, then.
Then, no, I don’t think it’s worth it. If the answer is I don’t like breakfast, or, I work a job that makes it difficult to eat on this type of a schedule. Then short, abso if intermittent fasting, skipping breakfast, in other words is good for your schedule and helps, makes it easier for you to stick to your, hit your calories on a regular basis to taste your macros, to make sure you’re eating overall nutrient dense, rich foods.
Great, go for it. But if you think intermittent fasting is gonna be the difference maker in terms of your overall fat loss, that it’s somehow going to change your body, your metabolism, in order to help you burn fat more quickly than, No, that’s, it’s
Mike: ridiculous. Completely agree. Coming back to this relationship with food, what are some good.
Habits to get into that, develop a healthy relationship with food. We talked or you mentioned getting away from labeling foods as good and bad, healthy and unhealthy. I had mentioned understanding the fundamentals of dieting, understanding energy, balance, understanding, macronutrient balance. You mentioned understanding that you really can’t do that much, quote unquote damage.
Certainly not with any individual meal. And there is, I wrote about this some time ago in article [email protected]. Actually, may not have been me, it may have been one of the people who work with me. I do remember reading it for sure. I don’t remember if I wrote it now.
But it’s on this point of how much fat can you gain? In I think it was one day. The title is something along those lines. And basically the key takeaway is no matter how much food you eat, You can gain maybe a pound, maybe two pounds. There are some physiological variations here of fat in a day, and that would take an absurd amount of eating.
That would take it probably if you’re a guy and you work out, it would take, I don’t know, six to 8,000 calories, maybe even more depending on the macronutrient breakdown and how active you are and again, your, some of your physiological quirks, so to speak. Some people, they, they are, More predisposed to fat gain than others.
Not that ever can just make somebody permanently fat, there are some genetic variations that come into play. And if we look at a single meal it’s hard to say exactly, but maybe a half a pound. A pound, if I remember correctly, looking at the research that. Was relevant to this was a stretch to me.
And so I was like, yeah, maybe a half a pound to three quarters. And again, that would be a massive meal. That would be 3, 4, 5, 6,000 calories in a meal. Three wouldn’t even. So it’s probably, if you’re gonna gain that full, if you could possibly gain a pound of fat from one meal, and you probably can, it’s probably more like a half a pound, you are going to probably pass out from the amount of food that , unless you’re a competitive eater that you’re gonna feel like one.
And so that has, I know, helped people understand that, Oh, so okay, I can go enjoy myself. And so what if I gain? Now we’re talking about I gain a hundred grams of fat and I really enjoyed myself, and now I don’t have to purge the following day. Maybe what I’ll do instead is I’ll just eat a little bit less the next day because I don’t feel like gaining a hundred grams of fat.
What are your thoughts on that point in particular, and then what are some other tips that you would give people again, to help them get into the habit of viewing food in a constructive and healthy way?
Jordan: Yeah. So there, there’s a lot to discuss there, but I would say, for someone to gain a half a pound to like even a quarter of a pound of fat in a single day would take such an extreme amount of overeating and specifically overeating fat.
Mike: yep. I talk about that in the article as well, that I’m not sure you could even do that with carbs. There’s some research that shows that you probably can’t. Definitely
Jordan: not with protein and with carbs it would be unbelievably difficult. And so literally it would have to be like thousands and thousands of calories over specifically in fat.
Mike: Yep. And then some alcohol may be needed as well. I talked about that.
Jordan: Aside from it being very difficult to do on from a physiological perspective, it would, you would your stomach would probably rip. Before. Before that could actually, before you actually, that would probably be something like some type of, you’ll end up lose, you’ll end up losing
Mike: weight actually, cuz it would be in the hospital.
Jordan: like that. It’s and not to mention, this is another side of it. People often think that calories going in only do only have one function, which is to gain fat. It’s such a short sided way to look at the energy you’re putting. It’s no, the calories you put in your. They go towards muscle growth. They go towards glycogen.
They go towards so many different functions in your body, your movement, everything. And oftentimes when you eat more, you’re gonna end up spending more energy. Like you’re gonna end. Like I, I guarantee everyone listening at one has, at one point or another, eaten a lot more and then they woke up that night sweating.
Like sweat, like they, they, their body starts to overheat, just like processing all the food. So your body has mechanism. Your body wants to stay exactly where it is, is the biological process of homeostasis. Your body wants to stay where it is. It’s very difficult for your body to do that. So I think it’s super important for people to understand that, that , the difficulty of adding a significant amount of fat in a single meal or a single day is just, it’s.
It’s comical when you really think, when you really understand it and when you really think about it. And I know for many people that has helped a lot in terms of relaxing a little bit. The other thing that I’ve found that’s helped a lot with people, for example, going on vacation, a lot of people freak out that they’re gonna ruin all their progress on vacation.
And there’s a couple things I say. First and foremost, if you go on vacation and you don’t gain a little bit of. You probably didn’t enjoy your vacation very much, so it’s like we have to put that out there. It doesn’t mean you should be binging the whole time and eating nonstop and eating to the point of feeling sick, but over the holidays or like over Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever you celebrate, if you don’t gain a little bit of fat, you probably didn’t enjoy the holiday season.
I think so many people are so petrified. To the possibility of gaining a little bit of fat, that they actually end up gaining more fat through binge eating and they don’t even enjoy the food they’re eating, cuz the whole time they’re feeling guilty about it. You have to get that outta your mind that, oh my God, I’m gonna gain like a pound or two of fat.
It’s like over, Over the course of what? Between November and January, you gain a few pounds of fat. It’s not a big deal. Think of it as one
Mike: to two weeks of dieting,
Jordan: like that’s it. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. It’s like that’s one of the major benefits of understanding how this works.
Calorie counting specifically isn’t right for everybody, but even if you don’t calorie count, it’s, I’ve always found people have a better relationship with food when they understand calories, even if you’re not tracking it. And when anding, you have to understand calories and energy. Energy in energy out.
You have to understand how this works. Cause when you actually understand it and then you, and you also understand, you can look at. Calories and calories out from a weekly perspective as opposed to a daily. It always shocks me. Every time I do a q and a on Instagram, I always get at least one or two people saying, At what time do your calories reset?
Yeah. At midnight. And I’m like, That’s not how it works, so your body doesn’t reset. Okay. 1201. All right. New. New calories coming in. New it’s. I like to look at it, The page blank. Yeah. . . It’s just it. Your body is constantly in a state of either fat gaining or fat burning. Constantly. It’s you and if you eat, you’re in a state of fat gaining.
If you’re not eating, you’re in a state of fat burning, and generally speaking, over the course of a week. Two weeks, three weeks, you start to notice whether or not you’re more consistently fat gaining or more consistently fat burning. And that will happen when you are, when you’re either in a calorie surplus or a calorie deficit.
But all throughout the day, you’d find yourself either like lip or lipolysis. You go through these fluctuations consistently throughout the day, and whatever you end up more in at the end of a week is what’s gonna end up happening to your weight and your body fat. So when you think about this from the perspective of, okay, it’s not any single meal or any single day.
But at the end of the week, where are you? You can start to look at this with a little bit more of a healthier relationship and understand, Listen, if you’re gonna go on vacation, enjoy yourself, have fun. That’s you shouldn’t feel I’ve al I’m always surprised when people are like should I be counting my calories on vacation?
I’m like, I don’t know. Do you tell your boss that you’re gonna be answering emails on vacation? For me, usually vacation is the time to take a break and relax. And if you’re the person that likes to track your calories and it doesn’t affect your vacation, go for it. But for me personally, I wanna go on vacation and just relax and not worry about all of the main things that I’m doing the vast majority of the year, and when you can get to this, You can start to develop a much healthier relationship with food, and you can actually then enjoy your vacation.
You can enjoy these instances in which you’re having pizza with your family. You’re going out to dinner, you’re on a date, whatever it is. It’s what’s the point of being super lean if you can’t even enjoy it? And I think that’s where so many people get to nowadays, where they’re like they’re so focused on being super lean and super shredded all the time, or they’re so focused on trying to lose fat that they don’t enjoy life.
And you have to find that balance.
Mike: If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world. Yeah. And anybody who’s gotten really lean I can sympathize and I’m sure you can too.
It’s a, it’s it’s almost like a curse, right? Because once, once you’ve gotten really lean, anything fatter than that just feels. Fat. And it does. And I and I’ve never had disordered eating. I’ve never had a weird relationship with food. But I understand I understand the emotional response to.
Gaining fat even when you have to I’ve gotten very lean for photo shoots and not bodybuilder stage lean, but six or 7% and that’s a bit too lean for just daily living because it negatively impacts sleep. It negatively impacts energy levels, workouts, sex drive. It’s just, for me, that’s not, and it’s gonna be for pretty much all guys.
There are the exceptions, of course, and the female equivalent of that. Would probably be 15% or maybe even a little bit leaner, where, yeah, it looks cool, but your quality of life is negatively impacted. And so I consciously was like it’s time to get fatter. And there was pushback and I had to override it.
I just had to override the emotional response Yeah, but I like the ab veins. It’s cool, , So I understand. I understand. And I think that this is just, Part of the experience and it’s just part of, I think maybe you could use the analogy of maturing as a fit person,
Jordan: yeah. Listen, I, I. It’s very obvious. I’ve worked with a lot of people who used to be physique competitors or body builders, and it’s so interesting. You look at their pictures of them on stage on Instagram and you’re like, Man, that would be so sick to look like that, to be so lean. But then when you actually talk to them, Outside of that environment, and you see how much they’re struggling with their relationship with food.
And you see the only pictures they posted themselves are pictures of when they were stage lean. Yeah. And then
Mike: they’ll take a bunch of pictures and then trickle them out throughout the year. Correct.
Jordan: But that’s a real strategy that they do, is they get as many pictures as they possibly can. Not just when they’re on stage, but also when they’re in like the last weeks of prep, like prior to getting on stage.
Yeah. And they, those are the only pictures they share until. The next competition prep and they don’t show their face cuz they’re, they’ve ballooned up, they easily gain 20 to 30 pounds within a matter of weeks, sometimes within a single week after the show. And it’s so easy just to look at one of these pictures and say, Oh, it’d be great to look like that.
Or even yourself to get down that lean I’ve gone through many different dieting phases in terms of whether it’s cutting for wrestling, cutting for jujitsu, cutting for power lifting, or just cuz I wanted to get lean. And every time I’m like, Oh yeah, this looks really cool. But when I actually examine whether or not it’s worth it to maintain that level of leanness, it’s no, every time it’s not based on everything you have to give up in order to maintain it and everything that you’re lacking in there, whether it’s a sex drive, the energy, even something like.
The mental focus. Sometimes I, I’m way more focused when I’m sufficiently fed, not over fed, but when I’m sufficiently fed
Mike: Yep. Or sleep, just a little bit of, Yeah. One of, one of the downsides of of getting older, I’ve noticed is I don’t deal with six to six and a half hours of sleep like I used to.
It, it used to. That used to be my standard. I would wake up myself after six to six and a half hours of sleep. More often, six than six and a half than six but no alarm. And I would just, fall asleep very quickly, black out, unconscious for six and a half hours and wake up. And that was it.
And not anymore. Not anymore. Like I probably slept six and a half hours last week, or last week, last night. Here we go. And I was just gonna, I was gonna say, I’m feeling it a little bit. And I generally sleep fine these days, but last night I woke up and has had trouble falling back asleep. And unfortunately it’s like there’s just a little bit more gravity in my skull is how it feels.
And, but that also a good way to put it that also, Yeah. Like thinking the cognitive machinery is just stickier, it’s struggling a little bit, but anyway, it’s just sleep. Sleep can play a big role in all of this as well.
Jordan: It’s interesting. What I don’t know about you, for me, anytime I’ve been super lean, I.
I’m much more fatigued. Like I’m not as energetic throughout the day, but my sleep quality is never as good either. Yep. So even though I’m more tired and don’t have as much energy throughout the day, you would think that must mean you’re gonna sleep well. But my sleep quality is never as good as I’m actually in more of a maintenance phase when my calories are in line, my sleep is in line.
I, I feel much better with slightly more calories than I do when I’m underfeeding.
Mike: Yep. Same. Same. And I’ve had to find, That kind of happy medium for me, and for me, it’s, anybody falls me on Instagram if you don’t check me out. Multiple life fitness at multiple life Fitness. You can see I, I post some physique pictures here and there.
Mostly it’s workout related stuff, but I stay fairly lean let’s call it 10% or so maybe a little bit leaner than that. And that. My training routine, five days of lifting and six to seven days of cardio, but just 30 minutes of lower intensity not low, but lower intensity cycling just to, just for the health benefits and to burn a little bit more calories so I can just eat more food.
And if I go further than this with training or with body fat percentage, then yep, my, my sleep will. Quickly impacted, and for me, I will experience it in increased wakings. I won’t have trouble falling asleep, but I’ll have trouble staying asleep and yeah. I’ve just had to again, find what works in terms of.
A look that, I like the look and anybody who is listening, at least half the reason we do all this is to look a certain way. I think that’s I think that’s true for most of us, and I don’t, I’m not ashamed to say that, but also I’m able to have good workouts. I have good energy. I generally do sleep well.
And so I think that also, finding that goldilock zone for yourself is an important part of all of this. And it does impact relationship with food as well because of course, and this is something I would like to get your thoughts on. Cause you had mentioned that you don’t have to count calories.
I don’t count calories, but I do of course, know how calories work and I have done enough calorie counting and weighing and measuring in the past to have. Familiarity with the foods I like to eat and I don’t look at a portion of food and only see calories and macros, but I do just know intuitively what is an appropriate amount of food.
Like I know that my calories hover between 20 803,000 per day, and I’ve just done that enough to know what that looks like in terms of how many meals I’m eating and what foods are in those meals, and my portion sizes. And so anyway, for people listening, I think that this is particularly relevant when you get into your maintenance phase and you’re trying to find your maintenance physique, which is going to be determined by your maintenance lifestyle, which is influenced right by your maintenance mindset, I guess you could say.
Jordan: Yeah. I agree. Complete, and I think one of the, I think your maintenance mindset is often largely influenced by your calorie deficit mindset. And it’s how you end up getting very lean. You should try and get very lean in a way that you’d like to mimic in your maintenance life, right?
It’s like where I think a lot of people really screw up is they try and do something that is completely unrealistic for them to do forever. Then when they try and go in more towards maintenance mode and their lifestyle completely shifts, they end up gaining weight back much more quickly because they did it in a way that they couldn’t
Mike: have sustained and they set themselves up for that rebound right, where their diet is finally over.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s
Jordan: exactly right. They’re, they do a lot of things. They, oftentimes, they weigh they exercise way more than they possibly can sustain, like the, whether they’re doing two days, whether they’re trying to do cardio all the time, whether they’re radically reducing calories. One of the ones that I see a lot in people, and this is in people who know what to do, this is in people who generally have a higher knowledge of fitness than most, but they still struggle to maintain a lower body.
Fat is as soon as they go into a dieting. Their foods will go to all of the diet foods, All of the very low fat Yeah, the
Mike: tilapia and the rice cakes and the Yes.
Jordan: Or even like the Walden farms dressing. Oh, that stuff’s so gross. And like the, like the zero calorie jello and all that stuff.
And the reason they do it, I understand why that what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to fill up. As much as they can for as few calories as possible. Cause they wanna stay full. But the issue is as soon as they go to their maintenance life, they’re eliminating all of that. They’re not filling up on the jello, they’re not filling up, they’re not having these massive garine bowls of vegetables.
They’re going back to what generally a normal amount of food looks like in a nor like from overall. Natural nutrient dense, rich foods, but those have more calories than these like synthetically
Mike: designed. Yeah, And they’ve gotten used to a certain amount of volume. That’s exactly
Jordan: it. They’ve created this idea of how full they’re supposed to be.
So when they fill up on these other foods that are otherwise very healthy for them, they’re going to be eating significantly more calories because they’re used to this certain amount of volume in their stomach. And
Mike: so what do you like to see people do to avoid that problem?
Jordan: I think some of that stuff in your diet can be okay, but you really have to give an honest look at what you’re eating and I think there are a couple things that you have to do when you’re dieting.
You have to be okay with a little bit of hunger. You have to be okay with that. I think one of the biggest issues is people will try and avoid hunger so much that they actually create a fear around it. That they’re so scared of ever being slightly hungry, that it actually becomes a huge fear of going to bed Hungry is a really common one.
A lot of people are very fearful of going to bed hungry, which is often what will perpetuate binge eating as well. But hunger is a normal part of dieting. Like it’s a normal part. It’s a normal part of being a human.
Mike: Yeah, I was gonna say, even if you’re not, even if you’re just maintaining and if you’re not a little bit hungry before your meals, That’s not necessarily a red flag, but you may not be maintaining
You may be in a slight, you might be, you may be in a slight calorie surplus, or you may do better if you were to eat fewer meals and space it out a little more, a little bit more, You may enjoy that more. Correct?
Jordan: Yeah So understanding that hunger isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And also I would say, Taking the foods that you normally eat and trying your best just to have slightly smaller portions of those same foods if your cutting diet looks drastically different than your maintenance diet.
You’re not gonna be able to sustain it. It’s not, It’s why the extreme things like juice cleanses and stuff don’t work long term. And it’s also why things like when you go from alright, like I’m gonna I always eat the regular cream cheese, or I always eat the regular yogurt and then I’m gonna get the zero fat yogurt or zero fat, whatever.
Everything goes to the zero fat. Zero fat, zero fat. The diet. The diet. But you don’t do that in your regular. You’re not gonna be able to sustain that. So ideally have less elimination, less complete substitutions, and more just slightly reduced
Mike: portions. Yeah, that’s a great tip. That’s something that I’ve always done the last time.
Let’s see, my last cut was the, it was earlier last year. I forget exactly when it started. It was, I can’t believe it’s already August, 2021. But it’s insane. I know. I think of, when Covid kicked off? Remember the two weeks to flatten the curve? You remember that one
Mike: It’s, I don’t even, It’s hard to even laugh at . It’s just sad. No, I’m joking. Over a year and a half. It is absolutely absurd and ridiculous. But, so it was during the Q1 of last year and Okay. Wasn’t going to the office anymore. And wasn’t going to the gym was working out at home.
And I was like, Yeah, okay. It saves. 20 to 30 minutes of driving I’ll just start doing cardio and I’ll just eat the same food. And that’s also an easy way to cut if you can just increase your activity level enough to create a large enough calorie deficit to make a difference, and then you just eat exactly the same.
That’s what I did. Correct. Yeah. And I lost eight pounds over it was probably a half a pound a week or so. It was maybe a little bit slower in that because I, I. Concerned about the time. I was just like, Yeah, why not I’ll just use this as an excuse to do some cardio. It’s good for my health.
I’ll get a bit leaner that, that plays well on social media. Sure. Whatever . But before that, my, my common method of cutting was exactly what. What you just said. I would take my meal plan, which wasn’t necessarily a rigid meal plan, have to eat these exact foods every day. I would just find stuff that I like to eat, and I would eat the same stuff every day until I feel like changing something basically.
And I remember one cut, for example. It started with, I had to cut a bit more out of it by the end, but it started with, I was eating at the time an English muffin. Peanut butter and jelly, I think a peanut butter and jelly English muffin in the afternoon, and I don’t remember the exact calories, maybe 400 ish or something like that.
And may have been a little bit more. And that was how I started. My cut is I just stopped eating the English muffin in the afternoon . And it sounds silly, but it was enough of a reduction in my calorie intake to kickstart the cut and get me. Maybe three or four weeks or so of fat loss until the metabolic adaptations caught up with me.
And then I had to go to another meal, and I think the next thing I did is I took, I think I took down the rice. I would have. I remember two bowls of like brown rice with a salad at lunch. And I, and then I brought that down to one ball and then I think I removed one portion of fruit. So I came down to one or two portions a day as opposed two or three, something like that.
And I just did that throughout the cut, just, trimming here, pulling out here until I was done. And then I just added the foods back in and again, making various changes here and there. If I felt like, All right, I’m sick of this dinner. I wanna do something else, but I don’t get sick of food easily, so there aren’t that many changes that way.
And then jumping right back into maintenance was just, again, adding the foods back that I removed. What
Jordan: you just spoke about is so important because I know you know this, but like research consistently shows that people who have a similar diet on a regular basis have a much easier time maintaining a healthier body weight.
And it makes sense because they generally know if they’re eating a similar thing on a regular basis, they know if they’re gaining weight, losing weight, whatever, and they can more easily manage their portions. Whereas if you’re having something new every single day at every single meal, It’s very difficult to know how much you’re eating and it’s far more difficult to track whether or not you’re gaining or losing it and what it is a result of.
But most people, they so overcomplicate this process and just to hear, it’s yeah, I took out the English muffin because I knew I had the English muffin every day, and just that was enough. It doesn’t sound silly at all. It just sounds like you have a very clear understanding of how this works, which is why, and I might regret going into this topic, but it’s why the intuitive eating crowd really like they, they’ve gone too far.
Which is like, how can you be an intuitive eater without a base level of knowledge? I could understand it if we lived in a world like we used to live which we didn’t have a pantry full of food in which we didn’t have like meals ready for us that are highly palatable and highly processed and so neutral, so calorically dense,
Mike: or if at least you had to like hop on a bicycle and ride at least 15 minutes to get it.
You know what I mean?
Jordan: Exactly. If it wasn’t just like literally you could just. Have someone bring it to you from the kitchen.
Mike: Exactly. Probably just bring it right into your mouth. Yeah. Just come on in. If you could just feed it right into me.
Jordan: It just, it really speaks to the importance of knowledge is the foundation of intuition in this world.
And if you don’t have the requisite knowledge then you’re going in blind. And so when you have this knowledge and then you can set up these routines and this lifestyle. It becomes very methodical and it becomes very common sensical. And to many, it will seem like it’s too simple, but it’s just very basic.
It’s just not flashy. And and that’s why it makes so much sense, everything that you just said. And I think even among people who’ve really struggled with disordered eating, I don’t think counting calories for them is always the best. Option in many cases, it can do more harm than good for someone who’s really struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, any of that.
But even if they don’t count their calories, the number of them who’ve said understanding calories and learning about calories helped them tremendously. And she, it’s the knowledge of understanding of what a portion size looks like, what a calorie actually is, that can really help you develop a better relationship with.
Mike: It’s almost like one of those absolute, axioms that understanding the truth of something, how something works, having knowledge is always a positive thing. I think that I’m not a, I’m not a metaphysicist, but that sounds pretty reasonable to me. Oh yeah. And this works in later it’s not gonna hurt you.
Even if, like what you’re saying, if somebody has trouble with this understanding the elements of what they’re dealing with, that’s never gonna hurt. Correct. That’s exactly right. And with the intuitive eating, maybe a good comparison that will click for people is what if people were saying that they were just intuitively training, They don’t know what, anything related to training.
They couldn’t tell you. Maybe they know what a rep in a set is. That’s about it. But they couldn’t tell you what volume. They couldn’t tell you what intensity means. They couldn’t tell you what frequency means. They couldn’t tell you what even what a, maybe a major muscle group is, and they couldn’t explain to you how those different factors affect each other and how they should be, how they should be considered in your programming.
And they just say, No. I just train intuitively. I just go in the gym and I just ask the universe what I should do or I ask my body what I should do, and then I do. Of course you would, you’d be like, Okay, hey, it’s good you’re in here. I’m glad to see that. Really, it’s Hey, you’re putting an effort.
I like it. But you may wanna inform yourself because you could get more out of this time and this energy. Yeah.
Jordan: Yeah. It’s exactly right. A hundred
Mike: percent agree. Awesome, man. Those are the main talking points. I wanted to get your opinion on, and this has been a great discussion.
As expected, I already am looking forward to the next one. We’ll have to, we’ll have to figure out what that could be. But let’s wrap up with where people can find you, where they can find your work, and if there’s anything in particular that you want people to know about whether it’s relevant to this conversation or not, let’s let ’em know.
Jordan: So you can find my own podcast, the Jordan site mini podcasts. And that’s probably the main place right now, which is what I want to get you on next. So we can do another like a part two to the supplement talk. We had that first time. Yeah, that’d be fine. So when we get off this, maybe we’ll set a date for that in mid-September, but yeah that’s the main place to the Jordan site mini podcast.
Mike: it. Thanks again for taking the time. I look forward to the next one. Thank you, man. I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.
And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f or life.com and let me know what I could do better or just what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.